Affordable Access

Access to the full text

The Phenomenal Aspects of Irony according to Søren Kierkegaard

  • Gołębiewska, Maria1
  • 1 Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Poland , (Poland)
Published Article
Open Theology
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Nov 09, 2020
DOI: 10.1515/opth-2020-0129
De Gruyter


The aim of the text is to characterise some phenomenal aspects of irony (particularly, of the ironic speech acts), which may be found in the Kierkegaardian reflection concerning diverse ironic attitudes of individuals, mainly of Christians. The constant assumptions in Søren Kierkegaard’s various output – in pseudonymous works, those signed with his own name, in “edifying discourses” and other religious texts –include the teleological conception of the sense of human being and existence. According to the philosopher, this sense is determined by the individually chosen and subjectively accepted goal of existence, related to the indicated three stages of life. This is the goal of a person who lives their mortal existence between joke and despair, at an ironic and sceptical distance from rash judgements and generalisations, and at the same time in fear of mundane threats and in fear of God. With the ambiguity of the category of existence, researchers combine an ironic attitude which, according to Kierkegaard, would characterise our way of existence together with its cognition and which would be connected with the conception of subjective truth as based on paradox. Kierkegaard wrote about ironic engagement and at the same time distance, about a positive ironic attitude towards the world of the here and now – a mundane immanent reality. According to Kierkegaard, the ironic attitude is closely related to dialectics, which he understood in a specific way – the structures of repetition and doubling are dialectic, and this dialectics may be found, among other things, in communication and in irony as a specific relation between thought and language. One must highlight that Kierkegaard considered two general types of irony: verbal (logical, rhetorical and poetic) and situational (existential), ultimately pointing out their religious aspects. The final part of the article describes different interconnections between the logical plus rhetorical aspects of irony and the issue of religious engagement of individuals (Christians) – their ironic entanglement in the relations between faith and knowledge, faith and doubt, mundane immanent world and transcendent universe.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times